Published on March 1st, 2014 | by Geckos Tales Team
25 ways to be the best traveller you can possibly be
Read time: a bit over 6 minutes
It’s no secret that we love travelling. It’s also pretty obvious that you love travelling, else you wouldn’t be here. We figure that if we’re gonna spend our days exploring this spectacular world we’ve been gifted, we should do it well. So here’s a list of stuff we think should help most people do just that. You might already do all of these things, in which case you’re doing it right. Legend.
1. Take it slow
The world is a big place, and you’re likely never going to see it all. So stop rushing around and take time to appreciate wherever the hell you find yourself. Take a seat, grab a drink, and just watch this foreign world unfold around you.
2. Don’t sweat the tourist sights
If all you’re concerned with is hopping from one tourist hot-spot to the next, you’ll never get to see the real country you’re visiting.
3. Talk to the locals
Want to have the most enriching experience possible? Talk to people. Talk to the cab drivers, the shop attendants, the bar staff, the guy selling fish at a street stall – talk to as many people as you can. Smile and ask questions – you’ll be surprised how warmly you’re received if you go about it the right way.
4. Leave your inhibitions at home
It can be tempting – especially when travelling in a developing country – to be overly cautious a lot of the time. But even when you’re already out of your comfort zone, don’t ever be afraid to go a little further.
5. Don’t boast
There’s nothing worse than a traveller that boasts about how much they’ve seen and how much they’ve done. Don’t be that guy.
6. Lend a hand
This one’s good if you’re unsure of how to strike up a conversation – just offer to help people. If you’re walking along a Sri Lankan beach and you see a bunch of fisherman hauling in a catch – just ask if you can pitch in! You might be there for 45 minutes and you might be completely knackered by the end of it, but you’ll have experienced something that is completely unique to you. Embrace that stuff.
7. Go it alone
Don’t be afraid to do things on your own (depending on where you are and what time of day it is, of course). Even if you just decide to spend just a few hours a day away from your travelling party – you’ll likely meet more people and you’ll have much more freedom. Follow your senses and just explore in whatever way you want to. Ain’t nothing better.
8. Take time to think
Look around and consider what you see and what’s happening. Then ask yourself why. Ask yourself if the people you see look happy – how do they treat each other? Is it different to how you behave at home, or are there similarities? What is it about this country that makes it so different from your own? Constantly asking yourself these kind of questions can help you realise things that you perhaps wouldn’t have realised otherwise. Grab a drink, take a seat, and have a think.
9. Take the local transport
It might be hot and you might be tired – but we’re positive that taking the local transport is an essential experience for anywhere you visit. Doing as much as you can to live like a local when you’re visiting somewhere for a short time is a sure-fire way to guarantee yourself deeper insights into your destination.
10. Document your thoughts
Even if it’s just a few words or sentences summarising what you did on any given day, you’ll thank yourself for it when you return home. So many happens when we’re travelling that it can be easy to forget things that you’d usually remember and talk about for the rest of your life. Even if you forgot a lot of the stuff you wrote down, as soon as you remember it you’ll remember exactly how you felt at that moment. Even if the memory fades, the feelings won’t.
11. Put your camera away
Don’t spend your entire trip looking through the lens of a camera. Do that, and you’ll miss the real world and perhaps find that when you return home and look through your snaps, there’ll be some places that you don’t really remember being at all.
12. Eat, drink, repeat
Consuming as much local food and booze as you can handle is like taking the express lane to the heart of a culture. So do it regularly, do it well, and do it without regret.
13. Put your map away
Forget the guidebooks, put away your pocket map, and go and get lost. The best experiences are unplanned, are there are ways, such as this one, to cultivate more of them.
14. Be sensitive
Wherever you’re travelling, try to at least have some idea of historical events and recent happenings. There’s nothing worse than offending someone by innocent ignorance. We once knew a girl who visited a mosque and told the locals they had a nice church.
15. Learn a few words in the local language
‘Hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are a good place to start. Perhaps get to grips with some basic phrases too – ‘do you have?’, ‘I am looking for…’, etc. Pair these puppies up with some local food/landmarks and you’ll be on your way to eating, drinking and seeing all the good stuff in no time.
16. Travel light
There’s some saying among travellers about packing your suitcase and then halving the amount of stuff you take. Do it. Then do it again. You do not need much stuff – packing light and living heavy is a much better ethos to adopt whilst travelling than packing heavy and living light.
17. Be curious
See something of interest? Go take a closer look. Wonder what your cab driver’s favourite restaurant is? Ask him. Want to know where to find the beaches that only the locals know about? Knock on someones door and ask. This whole travelling thing you’re doing is all about exploring – make sure you don’t hold back.
18. Don’t whinge
Seriously, dude. It doesn’t matter how much of a bad time you’re having, it could always be worse. Travellers who moan about how dirty/hot/smelly somewhere is should probably not be travelling in the first place. In our books, the only excuses for whinging are serious injury and food poisoning. Those guys suck no matter which way you cut it.
19. Be responsible
At the risk of sounding like your parents, don’t be an idiot. Be kind, be respectful and be humble to everyone you meet. Recycle and be conscious of the environment wherever you go. Your sensitivity and responsible tourism radar should be on high-alert when you’re overseas – because it’s not your country you’ll be damaging if you mess it up. Buy local produce, respect the locals, learn the lingo, take out the trash, and try and constantly think about what ways you can help or positively impact the areas you’re visiting.
20. Pack a basic medikit
Again, this is a total ‘mum and dad’ tip, but spending a few bucks on a medikit is essential. Paracetamol, diarrhea-relief, mosquito spray, sunscreen, plasters, bandages, malaria tablets (if needed), hand wipes, hand sanitiser, hydrolyte tablets, glucose tablets – start with this little lot and you’ll be prepared for almost any eventuality. Except the apocalypse.
All the time.
22. Plan, but don’t over plan
There’s a fine line between getting to know a place before you visit, and knowing too much. It’s good to have some idea of what you want to do, but we find it best to leave the majority up to chance. This leaves plenty of time for serendipity, which is one of our favourite things. Along with burritos.
23. Be patient
Don’t expect to have the best time all the time. There will be moments of frustration – airports (and getting around in general) can be a particularly potent source of travel angst. Just take it easy, try and relax, and do your best not to worry too much. You don’t want to ruin your experience by worrying about things that are out of your control.
24. Accept that things will go wrong
Similar to #23, some things are completely out of your control. Don’t worry about them, just try and take it all on the chin.
25. Don’t listen to anyone’s advice. Not even ours.
Seriously. We know we just spent 24 points of your time offering advice, but only you know what’s right for you at any given time. Go out there with an open mind and positive attitude, and the world and all the good times in it will be yours for the taking. Carpe diem, and all that nonsense.